Monday, January 06, 2014

Spring 2014 Sneak Peek 6

University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of John Griswold’s new book, PIRATES YOU DON’T KNOW AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN THE EXAMINED LIFE. It is a funny, poignant, bittersweet, and sometimes snarky account of everything ranging from creative writing to babies, and from race issues in a university town to crocodiles. The book is scheduled for publication on March 15, 2014.

For nearly ten years, John Griswold has been publishing his essays in Inside Higher Ed, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Brevity, Ninth Letter, and Adjunct Advocate, many under the pen name Oronte Churm. Churm’s topics have ranged widely—from the writing life and the utility of creative writing classes, to race issues in a university town, to the beautiful, protective crocodiles that lie patiently waiting in the minds of fathers. PIRATES YOU DON’T KNOW is Griswold’s vital attempt at making sense of his life as a writer and now-professor. The answers for him are both comic and profound: “Picture Long John Silver at the end of the movie, his dory filled with stolen gold, rowing and sinking; rowing, sinking, and gloating."

Though Griswold recently entered the tenure stream, much of his experience, at a Big 10 university, has been as an adjunct lecturer—that tenuous and uncertain position so many now occupy in higher education. In PIRATES YOU DON’T KNOW, Griswold writes poignantly and hilariously about the contingent nature of this life, tying it to his birth in the last American enclave in Saigon during the Vietnam War, his upbringing in a coal town in southern Illinois, and his experience as an army deep-sea diver and frogman. He investigates class in America through four generations of his family and portrays the continuing joys and challenges of fatherhood while making a living, becoming literate, and staying open to the world. But Griswold’s central concerns apply to everyone: What does it mean to be educated? What does it mean to think, feel, create, and be whole? What is the point of this particular journey?

Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, says, “I generally feel indifference for books about writing by writers or anybody. But this one I unabashedly love, embrace, scribble in, underline, copy, quote out loud to my wife. I say without reservation, John Griswold is one of the best essayists inhabiting this land.”

John Griswold is an assistant professor in the MFA program at McNeese State University and the editor of The McNeese Review. He is the author of the novel A Democracy of Ghosts and of the narrative nonfiction Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City. He lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Including McNeese State University, he has taught college-level creative writing, literature, and rhetoric for 16 years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the University of Miami. Also, Griswold was the first blogger for Inside Higher Ed and has had the blog, The Education of Oronte Churm, for 7 years. Check out the blog here.